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Liubov’ K. (HVT-3280)

“In dem kleinem Dorf, in Smiltschenzi”
“Tuchi nad Budishchem Vstali”
“Stepan-blondin”
“Proshchay, gorod moy rodimyi”

Analysis and contextual notes by D. Zisl Slepovitch.
All songs transcribed, scored, arranged, and produced by Dmitri Zisl Slepovitch.
Translations by Daniel Kahn & Yeva Lapsker.

Biography

Liubov’ K. (HVT-3280) was born in 1921 in Zvenigorodka, Ukraine. She was a teacher of Russian and German when Zvenigorodka was invaded and occupied in June 1941. She was forced to move into the town ghetto where she performed forced labor. She was later brought to a concentration camp in the village where she was forced to build roads and sort through the clothing of people who were murdered. She was treated very cruelly by the guards (one of them, Stepan, figures in two of the songs), but she and other prisoners were able to receive food from villagers outside the camp. Liubov’ and four of her friends were able to escape and a villager hid them until liberation. After the war, she worked a great deal towards the building of monuments at mass grave sites to commemorate the dead.

The four pieces — two songs and two poems — performed by Liubov’ K. are unique historical documents telling the story of everyday struggle for survival at the Zvenigorodka concentration camp in Ukraine. The camp itself, the nearby village where the inmates used to escape to get food, and the name of their guard, Ukrainian collaborationist Stepan, consistently appear in two of the four texts.

The three Russian texts are quite poor, both grammatically and stylistically. That is an indicator of lyrics composed by non-native speakers who cannot always distinguish between phonetically similar words and therefore make syntactic and stylistic mistakes. One of the songs is written in macaronic German-Yiddish. It was likely an attempt to write in German by the Yiddish-speakers as the text is full of Yiddishisms.

Unedited Testimony

In dem kleinem Dorf, in Smiltschenzi

The song is a fascinating attempt to compose in German by the native Yiddish speakers. This results in a mixed, almost macaronic text, which is largely German but with a few Yiddishisms mixed in. The song conveys the suffering of Jewish mothers who were separated from their children and longed for their homes. The style and form of the song are indicative of the interwar (Weimar Republic) period cabaret (Kabarett) and theater songs in the spirit of Kurt Weill. These might be the sources where the song and its language could originate. Another indirect clue that the song might not be originally composed by the labor camp inmates is the widespread use of popular songs with new texts during World War II. Music: Unknown; Arrangement: D. Zisl Slepovitch

In dem kleinem Dorf, in Smiltschenzi

In dem kleinem Dorf in Smiltchynti
wohnen Juden in dem Lager umgliklikh
Und die Frauen weinen,
weinen on ein grunt:
Voy ist unser haymayt,
wann zaynen wir zuhaus?

In der Stall wie Schweinen leben wir
und wie Hunde hungrig zaynen wir,
das Kind hat keine Mutter,
die Mutter hat kein Kind
Voy ist unser haymayt,
wann zaynen wir zuhaus?

Juden, Juden Leid ist uns
was von dem wusst kein Mann
Von di treren unzere
kanen Flüssen sein
fun dem Blut fun uns’ren
kann sein an okean.
Von di treren uns’re
keinen Fluessen sein
fun dem Blut fun uns’ren
kann sein an okean.

In the little village Smilchyntsi

In the little village Smilchyntsi
In the camp the Jews are living miserably
Hear the women crying
Crying without end
Where is our homeland?
When will we return?

In the stall we live like pigs
Hungry as dogs are we
A child without a mother
A mother without child
Where is our homeland?
When will we return?

Jews, o Jews, o how we suffer
Nothing like it was ever known
The tears we’ve wept
Could be rivers
The blood we’ve spilled
Could be an ocean
The tears we’ve wept
Could be rivers
The blood we’ve spilled
Could be an ocean

Tuchi nad Budishchem Vstali

Tuchi nad Budishchem vstali (The Clouds Gathered over Budyshche) is a re-texting and melodic adaptation (folklorization) of Pavel Armand’s music and lyric for the song “Tuchi nad gorodom Vstali” performed by Mark Bernes in Sergey Yutkevich’s 1938 film, Chelovek s ruzhyom (The Man With A Gun). The song quickly gained popularity in the Soviet Union. Armand’s text conveys the heartbreak of a young man who is going to the war and is bidding farewell to the girl he loves. The labor camp version depicts the horrific realities of slave labor, hunger, cold, the lack of basic living facilities, and the cruelty of the Ukrainian guard, Stepan. The song is based on the time and feel of a waltz, one of the most popular genres in 1930’s Soviet urban culture. Music: Pavel Armand; Arrangement: D. Zisl Slepovitch

Tuchi nad Budishchem Stali

Тучи над Будищем стали,
в лагере пахнет бурдой.
Люди за кости дерутся,
а Хайка бежит с кочергой.
(Это повариха была одна вредная.)

Прекратите шум, ребята,
суп идите получать.
А потом в неотопленном клубе
на солому ложитеся спать.
А потом в неотопленном клубе
на солому ложитеся спать.

Кормёжка у нас неплохая —
похлёбка с пшена и воды.
Пшенину из часик искавши,
можно в похлёбку найти.

Но, друзья, не унывайте,
слепую шкапу нам привезут.
А про хлеб уже не вспоминайте,
раз в неделю по крошке дадут.
А про хлеб уже не вспоминайте,
раз в неделю по крошке дадут.

Ночка так быстро проходит,
утром к работе вставать.
Весь день на морозе трескучем
приходится нам пропадать.

Тяжела ты путь к работе —
выйдет немец нас встречать.
Даст нам норму, что только держися,
и заставит её выполнять.
Даст нам норму, что только держися,
и заставит её выполнять.

Домой мы все мчимся стрелою,
у каждого мысли одни:
чтоб в лагере бросить лопаты,
скорее в село нам уйти.

Тяжела в село дорога, а назад ещё трудней.
Не споймал бы Степан у порога,
И не дал бы горячих взашей.
Не споймал бы Степан у порога,
И не дал бы горячих взашей.

Но удар нам приклада не страшен,
И шомпол совсем не болит.
Всё это терпеть мы согласны,
но лишь бы к другому дожить.

Тяжело дожить к другому,
Небывалые муки терпеть,
Но не хочется в землю сырую,
Молодым таким девушкам лечь.
Но не хочется в землю сырую,
Молодым таким девушкам лечь

Но надежда всё время крепит нас,
Надеждой всё время живём.
Отрубают орлу его крылья —
Тогда на путь счастья взойдём.

(Имеем ввиду немецкий знак, этот орёл.)

Tuchi

The clouds over Budyshche turn to steel
In the camp it stinks of weak broth.
People fight over bones.
Chaika is running around with a fire poker.
(That was one mean cook there)

Stop all the noise, people!
Go stand in line for the soup.
And then go get some rest
On the hay in the unheated club house.
And then go get some rest
On the hay in the unheated club house.

The slop here isn’t so bad —
This thin broth of millet and water.
It could take you an hour
To find one pellet of millet in there

But friends, don’t despair,
They’ll bring in a blind nag,
And you can forget about any bread.
They’ll feed us a crumb once a week.
And you can forget about any bread.
They’ll feed us a crumb once a week.

The nights fly by so quickly.
It’s morning and time for work.
All day long we waste away,
Freezing in the bitter frost.

It’s hard to go to work—
The German comes out to meet us.
He gives us our tasks — better be strong —
He’ll see to its completion.
He gives us our tasks — better be strong —
He’ll see to its completion.

Like an arrow we fly home,
One thought on everyone’s mind:
To reach camp, toss the shovels
And quickly run off to the village.

It’s hard to run to the village, but returning is harder.
God forbid Stepan should catch you at the door,
And give you red stripes.
God forbid Stepan should catch you at the door,
And give you red stripes.

But we aren’t afraid of the lashing,
And the ramrod doesn’t hurt at all.
We’re ready to endure it all,
Only to make it to another day.

It’s hard to make it to another day,
Unheard-of torments to endure.
But in such damp dirt
Young girls would rather not lay.
But in such damp dirt
Young girls would rather not lay.

But hope is what ever sustains us,
Hope keeps us ever alive.
They are slashing the wings of the eagle —
Then we will ascend the path of joy.

(The German emblem is meant here, that eagle)

"Stepan-blondin"

This is a ballad telling the story of the inmates escaping the labor camp to the village (possibly to get food) and their cruel guard Stepan. Liubov’ recites it as a poem in her testimony, with no melody. D. Zisl Slepovitch set it to a melody that evokes Argentine tangos, Soviet popular songs, and military marches. Music and arrangement: D. Zisl Slepovitch

Степан

Степан — блондин и шуцман очень строгий.
Он день и ночь с винтовкою сидит.
Свою он службу выполняет честно,
и за порядком верно он следит.

Наши ребята очень непослушны,
своего Блондина слушать не хотят.
Лишь только он успеет отвернуться,
в село, как зайцы, быстро все летят.

И вот однажды храбрая десятка
в село в день отдыха себе ушла.
Узнав об этом на дневной проверке,
Блондин решил их проучить слегка.

Пришли они, Блондин их подзывает:
«Где были вы, кто разрешил идти?».
«Вы нам простите, больше мы не будем».
«Прощу», — ответил, но мыслил: «Погоди».

На второй день, собрав свою десятку,
он на расправу к немцу их повёл.
«Пропали мы, нам больше не вернуться —
за кусок хлеба нам конец пришёл».

Но, к сожалению, все домой вернулись,
там угощение ждало их на ять.
Блондин готовил вкусный сладкий завтрак
своей десятке — крепких 25.

Шомпол свистел, и стоны раздавались.
И по ребятам плач и страх ходил.
А в стороне сидел Блондин довольный,
что непослушных так ловко проучил.

Stepan

Stepan “the Blond,” a guard so strict.
Day in, day out, with his rifle he sits.
Dutifully doing his duties,
Law and Order are his domain.

But this gang of ours is very naughty.
They don’t want to listen to their Blond.
He only has to turn his back,
Off to town (to beg for food) they run like rabbits.

So once, on their day off, this brave Ten
Went running to the village.
When the Blond learned of it at the inspection
He decided to teach them a little lesson.

When they returned, the Blond was waiting:
“Where have you been, who gave you permission?”
“We beg: forgive us, it won’t happen again.”
“I shall forgive,” he said, but thought: “Just you wait.”

The next day he got his Ten together,
And brought them to the German to be judged.
“We are lost, doomed, never to return!
For a piece of bread we’ll meet our end.”

But, alas, every one of them returned,
And a delightful treat awaited them.
The Blond prepared a tasty breakfast
For each of his Ten — 25 hard ones.

The ramrod whipped, and the moans wheezed.
And our gang went down in tears and terror.
To the side the Blond was sitting, smiling, satisfied,
Having taught these naughty Ten such a tidy lesson.

Proshchay, gorod moy rodimyi

Liubov' K. read this heartfelt farewell as a poem. For this project, D. Zisl Slepovitch set this to his own original music. In this case, the urban romance (song) genre seemed most appropriate to the composer. The song was arranged and recorded in two instrumentations: one with clarinet, accordion, and bass, and the other employing flute, piano and bass. Music and arrangement: D. Zisl Slepovitch.

Proschai

Прощай, город наш родимый,
Прощай, любимая семья.
Прощайте, матери родные…
[Обождите… ]
Прощайте, все хорошие друзья.

Идем в дорогу мы слепую,
Не знаем, что ожидает впредь.
Но думу думаем сумную,
Что нас там ожидает смерть.

С горы в долине показались,
дома Неморожа села.
И сильно сердце застучалось,
И покатилася слеза.

Жилищем нашим оказалась,
Свинарня без окон и дверей,
Там сильно ветер продувал нас,
И мы там зябли до костей.

Сначала мы были непривыкши,
Нам дико показалось всё,
Тяжелым потом землю рыли,
И обливалися слезой

Farewell

Farewell, our native city.
Farewell, family so dear.
Farewell, precious mothers.
[wait…] (trying to remember)
Farewell, to all our friends.

Blindly, we walk down the road,
Not knowing what lies ahead.
The ominous thought is growing,
That awaiting us is death.

From the distant mountains,
Nemorozh’s houses peer out.
Heavily the heart begins to pound
And tears begin to fall.

What a home we were given,
A pig stall without a window or a door.
A heavy wind blew right through us,
And chilled us down to the bones.

At first we were not used to it,
Such savagery, brutality.
With sweat we toiled to till the earth
And watered it with tears.